A mill for grinding corn was built on a Quinnipiack ford near East Rock in 1642. By 1780 there were eight mills. In time the river provided power for Eli Whitney's gun factory, now the Eli Whitney Museum.
Watershed and course
The river starts in the town of Cheshire, flows through Hamden and New Haven, and discharges into New Haven Harbor on Long Island Sound. The river's length is 17.4 miles (28.0 km). The river is dammed in southern Hamden to form Lake Whitney, which is operated as a reservoir by the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority.
Mill River passes through Sleeping Giant State Park in northern Hamden and East Rock Park below Lake Whitney in Hamden. These are among the river's reaches that remain undeveloped and are popular spots for fishing and hiking.
The USGS has maintained a gauge (01196620) near Sleeping Giant for the past 41 year to continuously monitor flow. Real time data are available here.
A trail is under development that follows the course of the river, especially in the city of New Haven.
The lower portion of the river is a fresh tidal system because of the existence of tide gates that cyclically block flow near State Street in New Haven. This section of the river is the subject of research to determine how sediments, metals, and other substances cycle through the estuary.
Ecology and conservation
The river and its watershed are stewarded by a volunteer group, the Mill River Watershed Association.
- Mill River Basin: 01196620 Mill River near Hamden, page 168 in U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Data, Connecticut, Water Year 2005
- U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map Archived 2012-04-05 at WebCite, accessed April 1, 2011